Things were going smoothly at the Fisher house…
It wasn’t that long ago that life in our family was tremendously hard. No one single thing came easy. Housing? Precarious. Employment? Teetering on the brink. Education? A constant rolling boulder of agony. Housekeeping? OH YOU HOLY SAINTS AND ANGELS WHAT DID I JUST STEP IN. And so on. This is what happens when you’re extremely poor and never sleep and have a ton of kids and no idea what the hell you’re doing.
Things are so much easier now. We’re more secure in almost every way, and the daily rhythm of our lives may be up tempo, but it’s not a frantic tarantella. In many ways, our life is almost like a fairy tale, and not in the “here, put on these red hot iron shoes and dance until you die” way, either. Yes, things are stable, predictable, peaceful, and calm.
And that’s intolerable, apparently. We just don’t know how to function when everything is going smoothly and there’s no crisis. So every time things start to feel manageable, we introduce some kind of ridiculous and unnecessary complication into our lives, just so we know what’s going on.
Things are stable, predictable, peaceful, and calm. And that’s intolerable, apparently
The dog and cat situation, for instance. We’ve always had a lot of pets; fine. Pets are good for kids. They teach them about responsibility and stewardship, and also death, and sex, and cannibalism, and coprophagia, and incest, and other wholesome lessons. Fine. So we have birds, we have a lizard, sometimes we have gerbils and hamsters, sometimes we have fish, fine, normal. Turtle, frog, temporary rat, sure. And sometimes we have a cat; and sometimes we have a dog. This is manageable.
But in the year 2020, things got too quiet, and so we decided we needed to have both a cat and a dog. And lo, our house has been transformed into an absolute cartoon madhouse.
They do fight, and we’re constantly having to break up little skirmishes. Sometimes the dog manages to roll the cat over on his back; sometimes the cat gets the upper paw and scares the living snot out of the dog. But the real toll is the psychological turmoil.
I don’t know if we have a knack for choosing neurotic animals or what, but the dog vacillates between boisterous attempts to make friends with the cat by punching him in the face, and boisterous attempts to kill the cat by eating him. But not in a mean way, because he’s a boxer and he really just does want to be friends. This is about what you would expect from a boxer, and it’s how he interacts with everyone, including family, strangers, squirrels, the TV, and this one empty pudding carton that won’t leave him alone.
But the cat has been absolutely shattered. Overnight, he was transformed from an arrogant, contemptuous little sultan (ie, a normal cat) into a needy, overcompensating furry ball of whine. In the past, he would catch a mouse if he bloody well felt like it. Now he goes on hyper-usefulness sprees, where he absolutely showers us with mice and voles and chipmunks in various states of bodily integrity, clearly thinking, “HERE IS A TORSO, AND NOW SURELY THEY WILL LOVE ME AGAIN.” (Hint: We do love him, more or less, but we do not love vole showers. Not at all.) For a while, he even left little gift corpses for the dog in the holes he dug in the yard, until he realized with disgust that the dog was afraid of them.
Then he discerned that awing us with his masculinity and hunting prowess was not doing the trick, and maybe if he just whined enough, we would see the error of our ways and get rid of the dog.
What kind of fools were we, that we would seek companionship and amusement with a cute little puppy, when instead we could be spending our days with a cat who does nothing but whine! It’s so irresistible and endearing! It never gets old! It never stops! Think you’re going to get some work done? Nope, the cat is whining. Thinking of making some lunch? How about a heaping helping of a cat who won’t stop whining? Putting your head on the pillow and hoping to catch some z’s? Heck no, it’s whiny cat time!
This is somehow even worse than the worst thing the dog does, which is to eat the cat’s litter. I can’t understand what would possibly entice him to do such a thing, but he clearly thinks it’s awesome. We forgive him for a lot, because at some point during the evening, he decides he is tired, and goes to lie down, and shuts the heck up.
Not so the cat! Not so! IT IS TIME FOR THE CAT TO WHINE.
With this winning strategy, he has managed to turn even my most soft-hearted teenagers against him. These are the kids who used to carry the cat around like a swaddled baby while crooning, “My son, my son.” Now they’re strategising where to keep spray bottles to squirt at the little jerk when he batters his body against their bedroom door at 3 am for the purpose of getting in their faces and, you guessed it, whining.
Actually, they still carry him around like a baby. And we spend most of our day rearranging bowls of kibble, since they won’t stop eating each other’s food and then lying about it, and we don’t have anything better to do. Sorry, creditors. I’d really like to earn a living so I can pay my bills, but right now I have to move this bowl.
And still, despite all this affection and accommodation, the cat remains a bottomless hole of need and want. I’m almost starting to wonder if some part of him isn’t strangely addicted to drama, and he’s grown accustomed to having some level of chaos in his life, so he . . . nah, couldn’t be. That just doesn’t make sense.